Find below the first issue of Animal Law Europe’s newsletter, which covers January – March 2021.
Welcome to our first quarterly newsletter!
This is a free newsletter, and we hope to keep it that way. You can support this project by forwarding it, shouting about it, and giving credit to Animal Law Europe whenever possible!
And if you haven’t yet, we invite you to peruse our website, and follow Animal Law Europe on Twitter and LinkedIn.
This quarter’s research brief is a short manual on EU Public Consultations. In this manual, you will find out what a public consultation is, and how to respond to one in an effective way.
If you need further help with drafting and submitting feedback to an EU Public Consultation, get in touch!
On May 28th, I will be presenting on the topic of farm animal welfare and consumer information at a conference on animal law at the Université de Nantes (in French).
On June 3rd, I will moderate a panel on the EU Common Agricultural Policy at the Sorbonne Law School (also in French).
And later this summer, I will present on EU Farm Animal Welfare Legislation at Oxford’s Centre of Animal Ethics’ Summer School.
Make sure to check the news section of Animal Law Europe’s website if you’d like to be updated on upcoming talks, interviews, publication, etc.
1. Animal Law News
Laws and regulations
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued new guidelines as a result of the implementation of the new Transparency Regulation (2019/1381), which impacts the market authorization for novel foods, including cell-based products. Karin Verzijden, partner at Axon Lawyers, explains it all in her latest blog post.
- Farm animals (pigs): C–826/18, 14 January 2021 (Preliminary Ruling)
LB, Stichting Varkens in Nood, Stichting Dierenrecht, Stichting Leefbaar Buitengebied v College van burgemeester en wethouders van de gemeente Echt-Susteren
The plaintiffs are three animal protection organizations in the Netherlands who challenge the legality of an environmental permit granted by the local government, allowing for the extension of an industrial pig farm. The Court sided with the plaintiffs on the basis of the 1998 Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. In particular, the Court ruled that an individual citizen is a member of the public in the meaning of the Convention and therefore is granted a right to access justice to challenge the environmental permit. The Court further ruled that the fact that an organization had not submitted comments to the public consultation on an environmental permit could not deprive said organization from the right to challenge that same permit before the courts later on.
- Animals in science: C–471/18, 21 January 2021 (Appeal)
Federal Republic of Germany v Esso Raffinage, European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and others
The German government challenged the validity of toxicology data supplied by Esso Raffinage to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The challenge was raised on the grounds that Esso Raffinage obtained such data from methods alternative to testing on vertebrate animals. The Court ruled that the defendant was entitled to use alternatives to in vivo tests as per the relevant general provision of the REACH Regulation and from the guiding principle of limiting animal testing in EU law – the so-called “3Rs.”
- Widlife (hunting): C–900/19, 17 March 2021 (Preliminary Ruling)
One Voice, Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux v Ministre de la Transition écologique et solidaire
The plaintiffs are two animal protection nonprofits who challenged the French legislation authorizing the use of glue trap for the purpose of capturing birds in certain regions of France, in violation of the Birds Directive. The Court sided with the plaintiffs and ruled that the national exemption to the ban on non-selective hunting methods violates the Birds Directive. The Court further ruled that the facts that a bird hunting method is traditional and non-lethal are not enough to establish its legality. Finally, the Court ruled that the birds sustain irreparable harm due to the damage caused by the glue to their feathers, which contravenes Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on animal welfare. Press Release in English.
The European Commission launched two infringement procedures and one referral to the European Court of Justice regarding Member States’ breaches to EU wildlife legislation.
More on infringement procedures: Infringement decisions occur when the EU executive “pursues legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law.” In everyday parlance, this means that the European Commission intervenes by notifying an EU country in cases where that country has failed to properly enact an EU law into national law, or failed to implement such a law. It is one of the rare mechanisms allowing the EU to enforce its own law, a duty that is usually delegated to Member States.
There are three levels of intervention, from a simple notification, to full-on legal action before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
More information on this Twitter thread and the European Commission Q&A Memo on Infringement procedures.
- Formal notice Art. 260 TFEU
- Wildlife (conservation): Infringement number: INFR(2016)2072
Poland received a letter of formal notice to comply with its obligations to prevent habitat destruction and disturbance of species under the Habitats and Birds Directives in the Białowieża forest. A 2018 ECJ court judgment ruled that Poland was indeed violating its obligations under said directives because of logging activities.
The Guardian covered the ECJ court ruling in 2018.
- Wildlife (conservation): Infringement number: INFR(2020)2371
Lithuania received a letter of formal notice to comply with its obligations to protect and manage its Natura 2000 network by establishing conservation objectives and protective measures for species and habitats, as per the Habitats and Birds Directives.
- Wildlife (conservation): Infringement number: INFR(2020)4133
Spain received a letter of formal notice to comply with its obligations under the Habitats Directive to avoid further deterioration of the Delta del Llobregat, a Natura 2000 site, which is currently threatened by the expansion of the Barcelona International Airport and Seaport.
- Referrals to the European Court of Justice
- Wildlife (conservation): Infringement number: INFR(2014)2262
The European Commission referred Germany to the ECJ for failing to establish conservative measures in violations of the Habitats Directive on over 4,500 sites in the country.
- Inception Impact Assessment
EU Geographical Indications Scheme (deadline: April 9)
Evaluation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020
- Non-Legislative Draft Act
Farm animals (insects): Authorization to use Insects for Animal Feed (deadline: April 6): Amending Regulation 999/2001 as regards the prohibition to feed non-ruminant farmed animals, other than for animals, with protein derived from animals to authorize (1) feeding non-ruminant farmed animals with collagen and gelatin of ruminant origin; (2) lifting the ban of processed animal protein from non-ruminants in non-ruminant feed, respecting the existing prohibition on intra-species recycling; (3) extending the use of processed animal proteins derived from insects for aquaculture to poultry and porcine animals.
- Legislative Act
Wildlife (trafficking): Environmental Crime (deadline: May 3rd): The Environmental Crime Directive aims to protect the environment through criminal law, appropriate sanctioning and cross-border cooperation. The Commission recently evaluated the Directive, and found that it did not meet its objectives. The European Commission therefore seeks feedback on: the scope of the Directive; sanction types and levels; judicial cooperation; organized crime; statistical data collection; practical law-enforcement.
Farmed animals – Review of Policy on Promotion Inside and Outside the EU (deadline: June 23rd)
Farmed animals (mainly) – Revision of EU Animal Welfare Legislation revision (deadline: July 29th): Starting May 20, the European Commission will open its Public Consultation on the revision of EU Animal Welfare Legislation, which scope is still to be determined at the moment.
Make sure to check Animal Law Europe’s Guide to Public Consultations to find out what public consultations are and how to use them to advance the interests of animals in EU law.
Spain – Farm animals (slaughter): In March, the Spanish Food Safety Agency (AESAN) adopted a draft rule imposing mandatory video surveillance in slaughterhouses. Once implemented, Spain will be the only country in the EU with such a mandate in national law. The draft rule refers to Article 13, TFEU, which recognizes animals as sentient beings and requires Member States and the Union to take into account their welfare in drafting and implementing legislation.
Cyprus – Wildlife (private ownership): In March, the Cypriot Parliament approved the adoption of a bill proposal by the Ministry of Agriculture banning the import and private ownership of wild mammals. The regulation takes the form of a “positive list,” which is a closed list of species of animals that can be owned as companion animals.
Italy – Farm animals (pigs): An Italian court fined a supplier of certified Protected Designation of Origin Prosciutto di Parma for violating the EU Italian farm animal welfare legislation. An exposé by the Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV), which joined the proceedings as an intervener, had revealed systematic violations of the law in the facility, thus triggering criminal pursuits.
Belgium – Farm animals (slaughter): A Belgian court fined the manager of a slaughterhouse for violating animal welfare regulations during slaughter. The story came through an exposé by the Belgian animal protection organization Animal Rights, which revealed systemic abuse to animals, including improper stunning before slaughter. However, the Court found the footage inadmissible. Animal Rights announced they would appeal the ruling, which they found too lenient.
Global Animal Law News
Chile: Petition to include animal protection provision in the new Chilean Constitution gains traction
China amends rules for animal testing for cosmetics starting May 1: As announced in 2020, China’s National Medical Product Administration (NMPA) confirmed it finalized new regulations lifting animal testing requirements for “general” cosmetics. For these products, NMPA will admit the data derived from animal free methods. NMPA defines “general cosmetics,” also called “ordinary cosmetics,” as products that do not carry claims such as anti-ageing, or anti-acne, etc. General cosmetics also exclude hair dye, perming products, sunscreen, freckle removal and whitening products. Companies will still have to pay for animal testing if they want to commercialize their special use products on the Chinese market.
Colombia: Escobar’s hippopotami – A local administrative court in Colombia will soon decide the fate of Pablo Escobar’s hippopotami. Pablo Escobar had imported four hippopotami from Africa to populate his private zoo in the 1980s. Today, there are more than 70 of the hippopotami, whose presence disrupts local wildlife. The administrative court will soon decide on the conservation measures to be implemented. Luis Domingo Gómez Maldonado, a lawyer and professor in animal law at the University of Jorge Tadeo Lozano, will argue in defense of the animals to avoid their culling.
Cuba: adoption of an animal welfare act – The Cuban government approved a decree to implement a new animal welfare law. Details of the new measures remain scarce but the Agriculture Ministry said the new law would regulate scientific experiments, the handling of strays, as well as veterinarian practices. The law is slated to be published in the Official Gazette around May.
Ecuador: the Constitutional Court will decide on animal personhood – The Ecuadorian Constitutional Court will soon rule whether a small chorongo monkey called Estrellita was a person who could have benefitted from habeas corpus. Estrellita’s human guardians took Estrellita at one month of age in the wild after her mother had died. Because private ownership of chorongo monkeys is banned in Ecuador, the Ecuadorian authorities seized Estrellita and placed her in a zoo, where she died a month later. Estrellta’s owners subsequently sued the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment to recover guardianship of Estrellta. Even though the lower court rejected the appeal, the Constitutional Court admitted the case in September 2020, with a ruling expected to be handed down in the next few weeks. The Nonhuman Rights Project and the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program will file a joint amicus brief in support of recognizing animal personhood.
The State of Virginia passed the Humane Cosmetics Act, which prevents cosmetics manufacturers from conducting or contracting animal testing, as well as the sale of cosmetics tested on animals in Virginia starting in 2022.
Utah becomes the 8th State to ban the use of cages for egg-laying hens, as well as the sale of eggs from battery cages.
50 animal law professors from the US, Canada, and UK filed a brief urging New York State’s highest court to grant review of a case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to transfer Happy, an elephant at the Bronx Zoo, to a sanctuary.
Subscribe to Brooks Law Digest for a weekly update on US animal law.
Turkey is on the brink of passing an animal welfare law that would ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores, regulate pet ownership, increase penalties for animal cruelty, and require municipalities to provide care for strays. The bill would also regulate the treatment of other animals, including bees, fish, and reptiles.
Speaking of dogs and Turkey, don’t miss Stray, a moving new dogumentary by Elizabeth Lo, which follows a group of strays in the busy streets of Istanbul. Stray will be the perfect companion to Kedi, which followed the cats of Istanbul.
The African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is now listed as Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This decision follows population declines over several decades due to ivory poaching and habitat loss. It is the first time that the IUCN treats the two species separately for the IUCN Red List, following the emergence of new genetic evidence.
2.1. Law & Policy
“Towards the Replacement of Animals for Scientific Purposes” by the European Commission
Eight years after the entry into force of Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, and five years after the first conference on this topic, the European Commission organized a two-day conference on February 2-3 “to accelerate the move away from using animals in science and testing.”
No replay is available, but you can read the highlights by the RE-Place project online.
The following month, a coalition of 463 companies (including Unilever and Avon), and animal protection advocacy groups (including Cruelty Free Europe, Humane Society International, and PETA), sent an open letter to the European Commission to uphold the ban on animal testing for cosmetics enacted in Directive 2010/63. Several decisions of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) have recently compromised the ban on animal testing for cosmetics, by allowing animal testing requirements for ingredients exclusively used in cosmetics under Regulation 1907/2006 (“REACH Legislation”).
Environmental Crime Directive: Acknowledging Wildlife Crime as a Serious Criminal Activity by MEPs4Wildlife and IFAW EU
This online conference included presentations by Catherine de Bolle, Executive Director of Europol, Jorge Rios, Chief of the UNODC Wildlife and Forest Crime Program, as well as Dr. Wouter van Ballegooij of the Directorate General for Justice at the European Commission. Watch the replay.
All the following events are online, free, and open to the public.
- On April 3, Lewis & Clark’s Center for Animal Law Studies will hold a one-day virtual event to celebrate Aquatic Animal Day.
Program | Registration
- On April 8–9, The Connecticut Journal of International Law (UConn School of Law) will host a two-day conference on the theme: “A Wild Approach: Creating a Global Lens for Animal Welfare through International Law & Policy”. Registration and program.
- On April 23, Northern Illinois University Law Review will host a symposium on Animals & Environmentalism. Registration.
2.3. Education and Career Advancement
Registrations are open for:
- Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Law Studies Summer Program.
- For Université de Brest’s two-week animal law program (“diplôme universitaire”) (in French, open to non-lawyers). Deadline to apply: May 21.
- For The Animals & Society Research Initiative’s second Writing Animals Program, running from April 13–June 10, 2021. The program is a free motivational forum for animal law and policy scholars to advance the academic and public influence of animal law as a field.
Find out more by emailing Maneesha Deckha at email@example.com, or register here.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is organizing a virtual animal law symposium on April 23–24 (free and open to the public). Registration.
- Live transport of animals: The Month When the Cruelty of Live Transports Became Manifest
Summer usually carries its weight of animal suffering in trucks and ships traveling in the scorching heat. The tragedies of transported animals have been as many sore reminders that animals are being transported alive all year long in inhumane conditions.
Already in September, a boat with 6,000 cows had capsized off the coast of Japan, prompting New Zealand to suspend all live exports of animals.
For three months – from mid-December until mid-March – two ships transporting almost three thousands of animals got stuck at sea. Initially set to sail to the Middle East from Spain, the ships bounced off different ports in the Mediterranean after several countries’ sanitary authorities, including Turkey and Lydia, refused to unload the animals due to suspicion of bluetongue outbreak. The Spanish authorities ultimately allowed the two ship to come back to Spain, were the surviving animals were slaughtered at the Cartagena port, at an alarmingly speedy rate due to emergency sanitary procedures.
The Mediterranean episode wasn’t even brought to full closure when the Suez Canal logjam made the front page. At first an amusing event shining the light on the world’s overreliance on one very small stretch water, the issue became much more serious once reporters revealed the presence of another twenty boats livestock boats in the many ships awaiting passage – fourteen of which had loaded in the EU.
Finally, at the tail end of this month, animal advocates raised awareness on the ordeal suffered by horses transported alive by plane from Europe to Japan, through Canada, to satisfy the growing demand for horsemeat there. Another painful reminder of the presence of a massive number of live animals – often unbeknownst to the public – transported by road, air, and sea, to satisfy an ever growing hunger for fresh animal flesh.
- Celebrate World Aquatic Animal Day on April 3
Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Legal Studies (CALS) prepared a social media kit to celebrate Aquatic Animal Day.
- Visa Kurki, Legal personhood and Animal Rights, Journal of Animal Ethics
- Kristen Stilt, Rights of Nature, Rights of Animals, Harvard Law Review (Commentary).
- Marta Vila i Aguilar, Humane-washing: la publicidad engañosa respecto al bienestar animal en las explotaciones ganaderas, Boletín INTERcids (in Spanish).
Call for contributions:
- The Canadian Animal Law Conference is accepting abstracts until April 2 (this Friday!) for the 2021 edition.
- The European Food and Feed Law Review is calling for submissions on a rolling basis. The deadline to submit contributions to be published in the next issue is April 27.
- (in French): The Université d’Aix has issued a call for contributions by graduate law students and young legal scholars for a conference on animal law.